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This Comedy Bit is Brought to You by SnapStream

Current TV and infoMania replace "messy" DVR setup with centralized TV Search appliances.


Current, co-founded by former vice president Al Gore, is a cross-platform media company that integrates broadcast television (Current TV) and Web technologies (Current.com). Its award-winning series reach more than 59 million households and cover everything from cultural trends to social issues. One of these programs is infoMania, a satirical take on news and pop culture events. The show's producers—who once relied on DVRs—now use a six-tuner SnapStream appliance to record, search, and grab video. A second system installed at Current’s corporate office is used for media monitoring.

The Challenge

Each week, the infoMania crew strives to put a humorous spin on media trends, routinely using video clips from TV and the Web to illustrate jokes. When the show debuted in 2008, staffers were doing a lot of extra work to track down footage.

"We had a ton of DVRs from our cable provider," recalls Daniel Freed, the show's supervising producer. "DVRs are tough because fast-forwarding and rewinding through them is kind of a nightmare, and really all that you have to go on are visual cues. We also searched for program transcripts in Lexis-Nexis and, hopefully, stuff that came up there had actually been recorded on one of our DVRs." But sometimes it didn't—and, besides that, the process was laborious.

Current and infoMania sought a more efficient, reliable means for capturing and searching TV broadcasts. They found it in a pair of SnapStream appliances.

The Solution

Current now uses SnapStream to make infoMania, monitor media, and get news feeds. The biggest gain, says global senior broadcast engineer Dave Simon, is the ability to find content fast. "SnapStream was the first system we looked at that had the ability to record and search closed-captioning," Simon says. "To a television operation like infoMania, that is paramount."

SnapStream’s technology allows infoMania to record six shows simultaneously and store hundreds of hours of television. Its producers can then quickly locate the desired footage by keyword. "We use clips of people saying things like, 'Fun!' 'Scary' or 'pathetic.' And that's all done through SnapStream," Freed explains. "We did one with "really, really"—"really, really awesome," "really, really great," etc. You can search for "really really," and it gives you a whole list. Prior to that, with a DVR—well, using a DVR, you're kind of lost. There's nothing to help you figure out what's there, except to watch the whole show or do a transcript search.  Sometimes you don't have what the transcript turned up on the DVR. With SnapStream, you know that if it comes up on the transcript search, it's going to be there."

infoMania writers search for all instances of "really really." Final product aired in November 2009.